Category Archives: political thriller

Book Review: Dualed

Book: Dualed

Author: Elsie Chapman

Recommend: This was a thrill ride that never addresses how completely wrong the whole idea behind it is…

I’ve been toying with picking this one up for quite some time now. I found the concept bold, daring and original. What if there were two of you but only one version could live until adulthood? What if you had to kill the other in order to survive? I was really worried that this was going to be executed poorly but the writing is good and the main character is complex enough for the reader to feel connected with. It was an enjoyable if not bloody read.

My big issue with this one was that they never really addressed how wrong the society was and that something should be done to fix it. The idea of kids killing other kids is never questioned except for the fact that some people cheat in order to stay alive. Or the idea that people would even want to have children when they would be forced to kill someone else or die in the attempt. A society that condones murder as a way of life and yet the author never goes on the record to attempt to fight the system. To be fair, I have heard that there is supposed to be a follow-up book. which will give the author another chance to do that but without it, it made the book feel incomplete.

This one was entertaining but nothing to write home about.

Final Rating:

Get it used...

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Book Review: Agenda 21

Book: Agenda 21

Author: Glen Beck and Harriet Parke

Recommend: This one is a MUST read

What if the United States was simply a dim memory? Freedom was a word never spoken and daily life was something out of a futuristic dystopian novel? What if your job, spouse and movements were all carefully controlled by your government? That is the life of Emmaline, a young girl who is among the last to have been raised by her parents instead of the state. She is paired (marriage is a thing of the past) and forced to produce children she will never get to see, let alone hold. When the government can take away everything, how can anyone fight back?

This book was a great read. It was cleaner than most YA I read (although it is adult fiction) and yet it had an edge that left me sitting on the edge of my chair waiting with bated breath to find out what would happen next. The characters were a great mix of innocence and a hardness created by their rough environment. The characters had depth and were very memorable. I think that Emmaline and David will be resonating through my head for quite some time to come.

By the way, whatever you do, don’t forget to read the afterword on this one – it will knock the wind right out of you.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

Need more than one copy!!

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Book Review: Viral

Book: Viral

Author: James Lilliefors

Recommend: It was an interesting read for sure… along the lines of Outbreak meets The Da Vinci Code.

I picked this one up for the cover, put it in my library bag after reading the synopsis and dug into this one when I realized it was in the group of books that was due to the library next. Not normally the kind of thing I pick up but as an occasional change of pace, this kind of book can be a great distraction.

The story centers around two brothers who find out about a plot to kill of millions of people using biological warfare in order to create a perfect society in the aftermath. Definitely had an engaging plots, full of all kind of twists and turns designed to keep the reader guessing with a finish that no one could see coming. It was exactly what was advertised and was a lot of fun to read, minus trying to keep track of the large amount of details in these kinds of books.

My only pet peeve with this genre, is the fact that the characters seem to be able to function just fine on next to no sleep. Adrenaline will really only get you so far. Also the massive amount of globe hopping that comes with a book like this can seem rather unrealistic. I want to know how they had the money for all these flights. I think that sometimes authors don’t really think through the mundane details enough in order to make it believable.

Definitely an intense ride and worth a read.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Beta

Book: Beta
Author: Rachel Cohn
Recommend: Interesting read..

I have a routine when I go to the library. If I can’t bring myself just to go grab my book(s) on the hold shelf, I walk through and collect books I think I might be interested in based on the synopsis and cover and pop them into my Disney Villains bag. When I’ve got somewhere between 7 and 12 books, I find a seat, hopefully in the back of the library where there aren’t a lot of people around and pull the books out one by one. If they are book I placed a hold on, they stay in the bag but the rest come out and are placed in a stack in front of me. Then I pull the top one and start to read a bit to see if I think the book is worth taking home with me. When I get a substantial way into a book without realizing it, like I did with this one, it usually means it will be the first one I read when I get home. Went to the library today. I’m already done with the book.

Beta tells the story of one of the first teenage clones on an island paradise. The story follows Elysia as she tries to cope with life as a test clone, sold into a life of futuristic slavery. While some of the book is frankly completely unbelievable, this beauty of this book is the obvious parallel to slavery before the civil war. It would be a great book study to introduce this concept in a high school classroom (not that teachers have time for that kind of thing).

I really liked the fact that the author maintains the same view about the sanctity of human life throughout the book. It would have been so easy to simply parrot the popular ideas of today but this author follows her idea to its logical conclusion. I also like that while she doesn’t shy away from some of the more difficult aspects of the life of a slave, she does handle them delicately.

However, this book had one HUGE flaw. The ending. Everything was great until the bizarre ending the author gave her book. I was fine until the very last couple of pages. Then I felt like the author completely phoned it in to set up for the next book in an obvious series. She was fine without her little revelation on the last page. She really could have left things where they were and given us that in more detail at the beginning of book two.

Overall, this was an enjoyable and memorable read minus a couple of flaws. Worth picking up.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Legend

Click image to purchase

Book: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

Recommend: A strong start to what could be a great series 🙂

I’ve seen this one a few times. I’ve almost bought it twice. Honestly, the cover just didn’t do it for me and that was the deciding factor in previous attempts. Sad but true. Then I heard that the author got the idea while reading Les Miserables. She was contemplating the relationship between Jean Valjean and Jauvert when she wondered what a more modern version might look like. If I had to pick one book to be my favorite, Les Miserables is it, so when I heard that the idea came from it, I requested the book immediately. I’m so glad I did and wished that I hadn’t been turned off by artwork. When they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, that is very true in this case.

Day is the most hunted criminal in the republic. A rebel who begins by wanting to protect his family has never killed, until the death of June’s brother. June is the brilliant military prodigy, left alone in the world when Day murders her brother. She graduates early and is immediately placed on Day’s cause, chasing him down through the streets of Los Angeles. When June stumbles into the truth, nothing will be the same again.

Okay the parallels to Les Miserables are definitely there, but not so much that they would seem obvious to most readers. Day of course, is Jean Valjean, June is our Jauvert with a feminine twist. While the surface of the story is different the characters are still motivated by the same things. Day is almost the perfect Valjean. He protects his family by becoming a criminal, saves a little girl’s life, he is poor and has a reduced level of citizenship because of it, he saves the life of his hunter, and is given a punishment far too harsh for his crimes. June is mostly like Jauvert but there are a few twists simply because she is female. This has created some of the most complex YA characters I have ever read.

I do actually have one negative for this book. While I love the fact that it is written in dual first person, I don’t like that the author/publisher/editor or whoever decided to print everything Day has to say in gold. It made half the book a real strain on my eyes. I think that when I add this to my collection, I’ll be getting the eBook so I won’t have to fight that.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Prodigy, which hits shelves in January of 2013.  I could just gush for ages on this one, but instead I’ll say, go get the book already!\

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

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Book Review: Reamde

Book: Reamde

Author: Neal Stephenson

Recommend: Not worth the time it takes to get through.

I had been very interested to read something by this author. The size of his books and the relative popularity in the science fiction/fantasy world had made me want to pick up one of his books but had never gotten there until I saw this one sitting on the new reads shelf at the library.

This book tells the story of how a computer virus can go completely wrong and spiral into an international incident. Zula’s boyfriend Peter gets mixed up in credit card fraud and sells some credit card numbers and information to the Russian mafia. However, information gets highjacked by a very intelligent kid in a computer game called T’rain, something similar to World of Warcraft. The mafia takes Zula and her boyfriend to China to retrieve the stolen data  and attack the hacker. They accidentally attack the wrong apartment, filled with Muslim extremists. The Muslim extremists kidnap Zula and take her from China back to Canada, where they decide to hold her as bait for her uncle, the creator of T’rain and a former drug smuggler. Instead of the paragraph I used, the author took over 1000 pages to tell the story.

I normally have no problem reading long books. I like a good story with complex characters and story lines. This book however was just far too long drawn out for the story it told. The story was, at it’s heart rather simple and the amount of time the author took to tell it was far too long. There were so many points where the action just stopped as the author gave the reader trivial information that did little to enhance the storyline or give interesting background information. Even the climax of the book lost integrity because it was lasting just far too long and coming from too many perspectives. Normally I’m all for giving lots of points of view and telling the story completely but this was too much to keep track of and keep it moving. It took me almost a week to get through this one simply because I found reading it extremely dull.

I think if the author had taken 300-500 pages to write this story it would have been much more interesting and engaging. The extreme length of this book made it not worth the effort it took to get through it. I would not recommend wasting your time on something this long and poorly executed.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

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Filed under 2012, general fiction, mature themes and subject matter, political thriller, Review, Summer book challenge

Book Review: Black Sunday

The cover gives the whole plot away..grr!

Book: Black Sunday

Author: Thomas Harris

Recommend: If you like political thrillers where you already know what it is leading up to.

I have read the whole Hannibal Lecter series, written by Thomas Harris. This is the one book that I hadn’t tackled yet. When I saw it for one dollar a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t pass it up! So I put it in my stack of stuff to read and thought it would be sure bet for a book I would really enjoy. I was wrong.

While this book wasn’t horrible, it was missing something. It was missing a true mastermind that was actually scary. While the plot line was very interesting, the characters really needed development. They had serious potential, but I’m not sure if there were just too many of them fighting for the main character role or that he just didn’t spend enough time developing them but it felt like it was missing something to hold it all together. For a first novel it was readable, but is not in the same league as everything that followed. I think that the author learned a lot from this process and came away knowing that he needed to create stronger characters, which he fantastically accomplished in his next book.

If you haven’t read anything by this author, you might find it satisfying but having read his other books and then following it with this one, I was somewhat disappointed. This one is going back to the used bookstore. Maybe I’ll get more back than I paid, because even a dollar was a bit much for this one.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Red

Book: Red

Author: Ted Dekker

Recommend: This series is growing on me.. looking forward to the next one!

This is the second book of a series of four by Ted Dekker. My sister-in-law sent these to me a couple of months ago and I just finished the second one. At the end of the first book, I wasn’t sure how I felt. At the end of the second book, I’m ready to dive into the third.

The book centers on a man named Thomas who is living in two realities. One is very much like our modern world where a virus threatens to destroy the whole world and the only hope is a woman named Monique who invented the vaccine that mutated into the virus. Thomas seems to know more than he ever should and tries to protect Monique and help her find the cure. However when Thomas falls asleep, he wakes in another reality where anything is possible and the modern world is a distant past only remembered through stories.

At first the alternate reality was a bit too much for me, however in this book Dekker seems to have struck the right balance. The allegory in the dream reality is a bit obvious but has a C.S. Lewis quality to it that makes it engaging and interesting.

I would definitely recommend this series at this point and can’t wait to get into White, the next book in the series!

Final Rating:

Get it used…

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Book Review: Black

Book: Black

Author: Ted Dekker

Recommend: If you have a vivid imagination and don’t mind a story that seems to really stretch the bounds of reality..

I am always on the hunt for a good read. A few weeks ago, I read a book co-authored by Ted Dekker. My sister-in-law saw the review and shipped four more books by Dekker to me. She insisted that I would love this series of books.

I have been putting them off for a while, having a bunch of advanced reader copies of books to read but finally got to the first book. This is the first or second book in the series. This book series can be read starting with Black, as I did or starting with White, depending on your mood. It supposed to be a full circle, which is why it is called the Circle series. I decided to read the books in the order they were published in so that I would get the same effect the original readers did.

This book centers around a young man named Thomas who seems to be a nobody. A nobody who has dreams that are uncannily accurate about a virus that threatens the whole world. A super-virus that has no cure or vaccine. A virus that is a mutation of a vaccine meant to save the world. The reader is dragged through two parallel worlds that effect the other.

I had trouble getting into the first book. The dream sequences were somewhat out there and bit hard to swallow for me. However, after a little while, the pace of the book sped up and I was sucked in, even though the dream sequences were still outlandish. By the end of the first book, I still am undecided about this one. I guess I’m just going to have to read the next book and see if I continue to be engaged and see if I can decide if I like them or not. The first book doesn’t really end, it just stops. We’ll see if the next book picks up where the last left off.

I’m not sure exactly what to rate this one, but I am definitely intrigued and open to see what else Mr. Dekker has in store.

Final Rating:

Get it used…

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Dan Brown strikes again

Book: The Lost Symbol

Author: Dan Brown

Recommend?? If you are not easily swayed by seemingly intellectual arguments…

Okay, I picked this one up not long after it came out in paperback (there are very few books that I’m willing to pay full price for). I decided to read this because one of the teens at my church was assigned to read it and I knew I had it on my shelves, waiting to be read. I figured it was as good a time as any to pick it up.

I honestly enjoyed reading it. The plot was engaging, fast paced and kept my brain working, although i had figured out rather early the truth about Mal’akh. The rest of it was quite a bit of fun to read. The only issue I had with it is the one I always have with Dan Brown’s writing. While this one did not attack Christianity like his last ones did, it went for a much grander scale and attempted to invalidate every religion (including Christianity).  It honestly makes me wonder where Mr. Brown’s hostility towards Christianity and other religions stems from.

I would say that his books are beginning to feel phoned in. The formula is there and I think in some ways he has stopped trying. The drowning for me was ridiculous. I know that it is possible from a science standpoint but honestly where would the CO2 go?? The final answer felt contrived and like he was attempting to placate the Christians that he had upset with his previous books, even though this one honestly is more sophisticated in it’s argument against God than the first two. I won’t even get started on my issues with his validation of the masons. I think that honestly at this point he is trying to sell books instead of writing something worth reading.

Would I read this again? The plot was enjoyable but the ending made me mad. I might read it again and just NOT read the end.

Final Rating:

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Filed under mature themes and subject matter, political thriller, Review, Summer book challenge, thriller/horror

Hungering for more Hunger Games

Books: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Recommend: Yes yes and yes!

The Trilogy

I was reluctant to pick these books up. Two of my friends recommended that I read them and so I half-halfheartedly tried to find it at the library. It was harder than finding a copy of a Stephenie Meyer book, which is saying something. So, I went to the book store and bought the first book. One of my coworkers began to bug me and so I picked it up. I started reading and didn’t put it down until I finished. I called my coworker and begged her to bring the next two to work with her so I could read them. I finished them that night.

These books are a futuristic look at what was once the United States and what had become the country of Panem (meaning Bread). The country is divided into 13 districts and the capital. Their lives center around the hunger games. 2 children from each of the 12 remaining districts are chosen to compete against each other in a fight to the death where only one can come out the victor.

The story centers around a girl named Katniss who takes her little sister’s place in the hunger games. She unknowingly starts a revolution, changing the face of their civilization for good.

This story was a unique blend of so many different genres and it created a fresh and gripping story line that held me until I had finished them all.

There are of course the necessary love triangle, ultimate opponent and seemingly insurmountable odds. The only fault I could find with this amazing series is that some of it is a bit too predictable. I knew who would win the first set of the Hunger Games. I knew who Katniss would choose (although if you don’t- I won’t spoil it).

With a movie to look forward to (and hopefully the rest to follow), I can’t wait to see how this book gets interpreted for the big screen. I just HOPE I am not as disappointed in their choice for Katniss as I was with another favorite heroine of mine from a book series that was turned into a movie…

Definitely something to check out for readers of all ages!

Final Rating:

Buy it new 🙂

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Hidden Gem

Cover

Book: Hidden Empire

Author: Orson Scott Card

Recommend: Yes, after you read the first book, Empire.

I am a huge Orson Scott Card fan. If you don’t know who he is, immediately go get Ender’s Game and start reading.

I picked up this book at the library, my favorite place to be during summer vacation. I thought the first book was an interesting read and honestly found that I liked the second book much better than the first, mostly because I think the characters were easier to connect to.

It tells the story of a plague outbreak in Africa, starting with one little boy name Chinma. It felt like Mr.Card took the Swine Flu scare and upped the severity. It showed an America that was swiftly becoming an empire instead of a democratic republic due to President Torrent. The heart of this book is about Chinma and the remaining Malich family and how they face this crisis.

There is also a not so subtle call to action for Christians around the world, reminding us that we are supposed to be helping the sick and oppressed. The death toll is only lowered when Christian aide workers go into Africa and begin to help the sick people, getting ill themselves in the process but also having a great impact on lowering the death rate.

This was a fabulous read and something almost everyone will enjoy.

 

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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